Seoul police raided over NIS scandal

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Seoul police raided over NIS scandal

Prosecutors raided the office of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency yesterday on suspicion that the local police agency tried to hush up the case of an online smear campaign allegedly by the national spy agency during the presidential election last year.

A group of prosecutors and investigators stormed the office of the police agency’s Cyber Crime Investigation department, an elite bureau of the agency in charge of cyberterrorism or crimes using cutting-edge technology, and confiscated some computer hard disks and e-mail databases.

The raid came after allegations that the agency pressured a local police precinct to conceal some key evidence in regards to a National Intelligence Service worker who allegedly attempted to sway public opinion in favor of ruling party candidate Park Geun-hye during the December race.

In April, Kwon Eun-hee, who was a senior detective with the Suseo Police Precinct, revealed that pressure was felt by the Suseo Police Precinct from above while she was leading the investigation into the NIS worker.

Kwon said ever since the main opposition Democratic United Party (now Democratic Party) submitted a complaint to the Suseo precinct, the Seoul police agency has constantly intervened in the probe.

The detective said investigators at the Suseo precinct requested the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency “analyze 78 keywords” associated with Kim’s Internet postings.

According to Kwon, the Seoul police agency analyzed only four keywords and abruptly held a press briefing to announce its interim probe results only three days ahead of the Dec. 19 election, clearing the accused NIS official of the alleged charge.

In general, it is unusual for the prosecution to launch a probe into a police agency. Prosecutors have raided the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency’s office twice since 2009, when Seoul policemen were blamed for violent repression of central Seoul’s Yongsan residents protesting a state-run city redevelopment project.

Prosecutors have already obtained mobile phone records of police officials at the agency to determine if they were pressured by politicians or the NIS to cover up the case. Political observers say the prosecution’s investigation into the NIS case could be the first probe targeting the irregularities of the former Lee Myung-bak administration by the Park administration.

By Kim Hee-jin []
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